Forever and Always
Some people believe in miracles. Other people argue that fate is what makes day
turn into night and the waves rise high and low crashing over a ship at sea or carrying it
to the shore safely. A person of faith will say that ones’ life is controlled by a higher
power greater than fate itself. Shannon has heard every excuse, rhyme or reason as to
what exactly wills each life changing event. She occasionally agrees, yet never disagrees
for reasons that would just be impolite. It is what only she knows in her heart, and in a
place that even her heart cannot reach, that wills her to live through each day and keeps
her anticipating the comfort of her empty bed at night. It is here, in the glow from a single
lit candle holding the scent of the ocean breeze, that Shannon separates herself from the
world around her and is brought into the only place she longs to be.
To begin the evening ritual, Shannon sits at her vanity, combing each section of her
long blonde locks and staring into her reflection. She reminds herself of how her eyes
used to sparkle. She attempts to recreate the shimmer in her hazel eyes by recalling a
humorous event, or practicing her most infectious grin. Suprised that this doesn’t work
(although it has never worked before) she eagerly reaches under her mattress for the
photograph that will begin the second step of what will soon ease her into a sound
Shannon immediately finds the grin that she has been searching for. First, on the
glossy print that she holds in her hand, and soon after, appearing on her own rose colored
lips. One would think that night after night of seeing the same picture would make it turn
into only that, a picture. Every time Shannon gazes into this square paper world of hers
she is drawn into it as if it were happening all over again.
She falls into the time the picture was taken. It was a beautiful summer day, and
the sky was painted blue with traces of clouds only to remind the town that it was not, in
fact, a canvas, but a true day. The birds flew blissfully, calling to each other. The ocean
breeze was just enough to send the smell of the fish from the dock towards the inner part
of town. The town itself was quiet. Families gathered today in their homes to share the
day with each other. Many of the fishermen had the day off, and although the town should
be bustling with people, it just seemed like a day for peace and quiet in the confines of
Shannon and Jay had the day planned also. He would be leaving in a week to go
to sea, and they were deeply in love. At times like this, they would be inseparable. As
they walked down the deserted beach, the water lightly grazed their bare feet. Hand in
hand they headed toward the dock where Jay’s boat would depart in a week. They
discussed the days to come in specific detail. What she would do while he was gone,
where they planned to go when he returned. They fantasized about what life would be like
in a year. He would finally stay home to run his fathers business in town, never having to
leave her side again.
Just as they reached the end of the dock, Jay stopped Shannon and looked into her
eyes. She stared deep into him, so deep that she trembled from the inside out. Her heart
began to beat fast, like it always did when she was with him. He ran his fingers through
her windblown, sun streaked hair, and it was there that he professed his deepest love for
“When I see you again, I will first touch your face and kiss your lips. Then I will
take your hand in mine and ask for you to be my wife. Until then, take this picture of me,
and remember me every night. Please use it to remind yourself that I will be back.
Nothing will keep us apart”. He slid the picture into the pocket of her windbreaker and
put his lips to hers for the sweetest, softest embrace that lasted for what seemed like
As Shannon remembers the moment, she focuses on the face of the person she was
meant to spend the rest of her life with. His skin was just the right shade of cream, with a
hint of rosiness shading his cheeks and nose giving the sense that the sun had grazed only
those features of his face and no other. His eyes, although dark in color, seemed to have a
glow in them to the point where their gaze would feel like it was warming you from the
inside. The lines around his smile made it seem as if he found pure joy in every bit of life,
as if they were permanently imprinted on each side of his lips. Oh, his lips. How soft they
seemed. They formed around his perfectly straight white teeth, by no means glossy, but
holding a brightness to them that claimed they were never apart from her own for long.
His hair was short and modest, and the sun rays picked up a glisten of gel here and there
that created waves within its dark brown surface. His shoulders were wide and thick, and
his blue collared polo shirt was unbuttoned at the top just enough to notice the bare of his
chest underneath. He stood with one leg propped up on the dock and one inside his boat,
as if to claim it belonged to him. In his hand, he held a tiny box just big enough to hold a
ring, one which would soon claim that she too, belonged to him.
Shannon gazes into the mirror where she notices that she has found the smile back
on her face once again. With the glisten in her eyes, she knows that she is prepared to see
him now, and it is time for her to depart into her world of dreams for the night. She
knows that she never feels his touch in her dreams, but she also knows that one day she
will. It could even be tonight. So with the hope of her dreams becoming reality, she
places the picture underneath her pillow with eagerness, as if she were a child awaiting the
tooth fairy, and lays her head down, closing her eyes with willingness to fall under the
control of her own thoughts.
Once again deep in sleep, it is only a matter of time before he comes to her. Like
every night she dreams about the day on the dock. The day replays moment by moment.
The wind in her hair, the gaze in his eyes, the sweet smell of his cologne mixed with the
salty ocean breeze, and the feel of his arms wrapped in hers. Yet tonight, the dream seems
to go further. She sees him come to her in her sleep. Shannon is shocked by the new level
of detail her dream has progressed to. She refuses to allow herself to wake now, eager to
see what next will come.
She feels Jay’s presence in the dark of her dream. His hand sweeping over her
face, grazing her lips with his smooth fingertips and moving them from there to the tip of
her ear where he brings his lips gently to whisper. The feeling of his breath on her is warm
and makes Shannon’s body tingle as she begins to believe that he really is in the room with
her. She smells the distinct flavor of his cologne in the air and on her pillow and longs for
him to wrap her in his arms.
“Jay, I need you here with me.” she proclaims as if he can hear her.
“I’m here. Forever and always.” He speaks and she is calmed by his tender voice.
Shannon feels the embrace of his arms around her, and the whispered phrase that
accompanies every nightly dream she encounters, declaring his love for her. Finally ready
to be disappointed by reality, she opens her eyes only to find that he is real. As she looks
at him, he slides the gold sparkling ring onto her finger and their lips find each other. The
remainder of the night had come to life with passion. At dawn, when she finally fell asleep
with his arms around her, she felt the grin on her face form and the comfort in her heart,
knowing that he meant what he said. He would never leave again.